Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times passes on a Sponichi report (Twitter link) noting that former Dodgers/Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda will earn $4.9MM in 2016 on his latest one-year deal with the Hiroshima Carp. That, as Hernandez notes, makes Kuroda the highest-paid player in Japan. Kuroda, who will turn 41 in February, returned to Japan last year for what many believed would be his final season. However, the veteran showed no signs of his age, reeling off a 2.55 ERA in 169 2/3 innings across 26 starts and averaging 5.6 K/9 against 1.5 BB/9. The strong campaign marked another impressive chapter in Kuroda’s exceptional career, which now spans 19 seasons between Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball. The upcoming season will be his 20th as a professional, and to this point, he has a lifetime 193-176 record, a 3.53 ERA, 6.6 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 1.22 WHIP in 3202 2/3 innings.
Here are a few signings/moves pertaining to Japan and Korea…
- Right-hander Yohan Pino has signed a one-year deal with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, the club announced (hat tip: Jee-ho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency). The soon-to-be 32-year-old Pino, a client of agent Steve Comte, logged 79 2/3 innings over the past two Major League seasons between the Twins and the Royals (spending more time on the mound with the former but enjoying better results with the latter). He owns a 4.63 ERA with averages of 7.1 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 as a big leaguer, and he’s also compiled a 4.38 ERA in 494 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level in his career. This will be his first stint with an Asian team.
- Via NPB Tracker’s Patrick Newman (Twitter link), the Yakult Swallows of Nippon Professional Baseball have considered signing right-handers Kyle Davies and Josh Lueke as well as lefty Luis Perez. Newman initially cited a Japanese-language report indicating Yakult had signed the trio, but now indicates that report was incorrect. Davies has the most Major League experience of the bunch, having totaled 768 innings with the Royals and Braves from 2005-11. Davis returned to the Majors this past season, tossing 2 1/3 innings for the Yankees. Though he’s been around for quite some time, Davies will pitch nearly all of next season at age 32, so he could potentially have several relatively lucrative years ahead of him if he thrives in NPB.
- The Cardinals announced that they have sold the rights to right-hander Zach Petrick to NPB’s DeNA Yokohama Bay Stars (Twitter link). St. Louis will receive cash considerations (the exact amount has yet to be reported) for surrendering the 26-year-old Petrick, who will be better-compensated pitching in Japan’s top league than he would have been in the minor leagues here. Petrick breezed through the minor leagues and posted strong ERA marks until reaching Triple-A, where he’s struggled a bit over the past two seasons, registering a 4.56 ERA with 6.4 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9 in 272 1/3 innings. Originally signed as an undrafted free agent, Petrick rose to No. 15 on Baseball America’s list of Top 30 prospects following the 2013 season, with BA praising his sinking fastball, above-average changeup and repeatable mechanics, which led to strong command.
- Left-hander Eric Stults will either pitch in Japan this season or retire, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (on Twitter). It’s not clear exactly whether Stults has a concrete offer from a Japanese club, although that does seem to be the implication. Stults made eight starts for the Braves in 2015 and has recorded 683 1/3 innings at the Major League level, working to a 4.24 ERA. His best years came with the 2013-14 Padres, when he was a staple in the team’s rotation and delivered 379 2/3 innings of 4.10 ERA ball.